Okay … I admit it! I do! I’ve spent way too much time on the past; particularly my past. I’m an amateur historian, in that history fascinates me and no history fascinates me more than my own. That fact should not be confused with a wish to re-wind and re-do my own history, because with one exception I don’t have the slightest desire to re-live and re-do any of my/our past. Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known as George Santayana, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I have heard this paraphrased and misquoted for years, but the point has always struck a chord with me.
Some people would think that a person who has devoted four years of her life to writing her own history might have a hidden desire to turn back the clock. It’s not entirely off the mark if you consider the last line of Dear Mom and Dad where I quote my youthful icon Dennis the Menace, saying that he wished he was three again knowing what he knew at the age of four. One of the lessons of detailing one’s life, as I did, is that you realize the mistakes that were repeated, sometimes frequently. I guess I was by definition, somewhat insane if you apply another quote, attributed a number of people, but is currently found on page 23 of the sixth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. The statement is this: “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” By that definition I spent a good portion of my life insane.
In the last few weeks I have come at last to a realization and thus a concluding moment in my story; my history as it were. Mind you, it wasn’t the result of a carefully crafted line of thought which led me to that point. It was, though, a singular moment which nearly drove me to my knees soon after we began the musical worship portion of our church service this past Sunday. The background for this incident is this:
Throughout Marilyn’s illness, I/he refused steadfastly to acknowledge the reality of her impending death. The result of that sad and hopeless situation was that, although I said goodbye to her one night after she was asleep, her prince never did and … neither did she. In relating 3 separate incidents which occurred soon after Marilyn’s death, I shared what I knew beyond a doubt to be visitations of her spirit. Two of those were consoling and one was an expression of displeasure, but there was still no “Goodbye”; no “Au Revoir.” She was just gone except for those three incidents none of which contained a goodbye.
Her sister told me later that I should know what Marilyn would say to me if she could. “Get over it and get on with it!” and her favorite statement when life presented one of its disappointments; “Oh well, NEXT!” But I didn’t. I couldn’t and I didn’t understand why.
Then last Sunday, in a totally unexpected moment she was there in front of me, not beside as before, saying “Goodbye!” And then she appeared to walk away on a road which ran up and over a hill. Near the top she paused a moment, looked back and seemed to say, “It’s not forever, just for now.” A pain I’d never experienced, not even at her death pierced me to the core. But, it was a pain like the removal of a barbed arrow that had been lodged in my chest for so long I’d gotten used to it until it was finally removed with no warning, in one quick movement on a Sunday morning.
With the memory of my past intact to avoid being condemned to repeat it and a determination to avoid the insanity of repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results, as a last tribute to my bride, the amazing and even in death, enduring Marilyn Folk Bishop, at least for the time being, “Oh Well, NEXT!” Yes dear.